Engineers from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) are making use of 3D printing to develop advanced multi-layered helmets for U.S. soldiers.
Led by UTA professor Ashfaq Adnan, the scientists are exploring the use of enhanced polymers and nanomaterials to build these layers consisting of complex, optimized structures that, while being lightweight, will be strong enough to be more effective against blast impacts by absorbing as much energy as possible.
This is crucial as directed energy from blasts always travels in waves; the helmet will include a layer of materials designed to deflect those waves and mitigate their strength, much like stealth technology on aircraft.
Apart from blast impacts, these combat helmets could also do well against directed energy attacks, such as lasers or sound waves.
Additionally, sensors could be inserted into the helmet’s layers, alerting soldiers if they have suffered from any potentially damaging exposure.
Once the helmet is complete, Adnan and his team will test their product against the gold-standard helmet in use by the military today through his partnership in the ‘Panther Program’.
The Panther Program a research collaborative hosted by the University of Wisconsin focused on the understanding, detection and prevention of traumatic brain injuries.
This is Adnan’s third major grant – totaling more than $3.5 million – from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
In all, he has more than $5 million in active grants, including:
• a three-year, $1.1 million grant from ONR to study ‘smart’ sensing elements for protective equipment in a dynamic environment.
• a nearly $945,000 grant from ONR to study cellular- and tissue-level brain injury.
• an $831,000 grant from ONR to acquire high-speed camera equipment and a realistic “phantom” head model.
“I sincerely appreciate ONR for supporting our research,” says Adnan. “The award will advance our understanding of building advanced protective equipment against improvised and new types of threats that our warfighters routinely face in combat.”
Image and content: Getmilitaryphotos-Shutterstock/UTA